‘Still life’ by Anoushka Khan would always pop up on my book recommendations each time I’d go shopping online for graphic novels. That’s how I ended up buying it on a whim one day, without reading even the blurb, like with countless other online titles. So I cannot blame anybody for finding out it wasn’t exactly like most regular graphic novel. It’s more like an illustrated book for adults. It doesn’t have comic panels, instead the pages have abstract art and paintings, and the story flows over them in poetry format.
The first few pages weren’t very engaging and might make some readers just give up. But it gets better. ‘Still Life’ tells the story of Pinky, who goes in search of her missing husband Pasha, starting from a local shop. Everybody believes the man is probably dead, but Pinky and her mother-in-law do not give up hope. One day, a clue turns up in a shirt’s pocket – a phone number of an old classmate, who reveals Pasha wanted to stay in their guest house. So off goes Pinky, in the hopes of finding the man she fell in love with and married.
It’s when Pinky goes to her childhood home, and author Anoushka Khan finally gives the readers glimpses to the protagonist’s life and relationships, that the book becomes interesting. The art is simple, some of it even feels very calming, while most others are quite forgettable. Anybody who has ever lost a loved one, will perhaps find a kindred spirit in Khan’s story. The first few pages were boring, the next few relatable, with childhood snippets and the last few come with the cold reality of relationships and family.
Just like the title suggests, not a lot happens in ‘Still Life’. Everybody goes on with their daily chapters, while Pinky’s life halts for a while, in search for a loved one. There’s that element of a good old mystery, even though Khan’s story-telling gives you a strong sense of foreboding, as if nothing is going to happen. The ending isn’t what one would quite expect, it’s realistic and perhaps that’s why is almost feels disappointing. I would have liked more story, but the climax arrives abruptly and the novel is before you expect it to.
It’s a 3/5 from me.
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